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A GOOD SPORT: No real winners in Supercars debacle


From a media perspective, Supercars is the gift that just keeps on giving.

And, during the week, journalists were bestowed another present when it came to light that the Newcastle 500 would not return in 2024.

While half the Hunter community celebrated that fact, the other 50% quickly turned to the social platforms, particularly Facebook, to air their grievances.

Ever since the event wrapped up in March, the Supercars Australia extravaganza has been shrouded in controversary.

The sporting body declared a total of 167,197 fans attended the city over the three days of racing.

But, then rumours surfaced that figure was way off the mark, and included thousands of free tickets, which were handed out, however never used.

Soon after, a community forum took place at City Hall, that attracted a massive crowd of locals who threatened to fight any plans to host Supercars in the CBD again.

Their concerns ranged from poor trade figures to health impacts, lack of parking to the length of setting up and packing down, noise issues to CO2 emissions, general day-to-day disruptions to an undesirable experience for retailers.

It set the tone that City of Newcastle (CN) was in for a major battle.

Things didn’t improve for council after an independent survey revealed 59% of online respondents were against the event returning in the future.

And, when Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp, listening to his constituents, backed the naysayers, it appeared to place CN in a no-win situation.

Sure, the financial benefits of staging Supercars were certainly an attractive proposition.

Just think of the money that could be invested back into vital projects.

However, council’s environmental ethos bordered on hypocrisy.

On one hand, the very proactive CN, which was the first local government organisation to publicly support the Voice to Parliament, advertises it’s committed to achieving net zero emission from its operations by 2030.

They’ve also set a goal for Newcastle to hit the same target by 2040 (under the Newcastle Climate Action Plan 2021-2025).

It’s a bit hard to do that when you’re supporting Supercars, whether for 12 months (what the NSW Government was proposing) or five years, which is what council was angling for.

To be honest, I’m neither for nor against the event.

The city looked sensational as the venue on national television.

But, from a sporting point of view, the Newcastle 500 was as exciting as watching paint dry.

The street circuit was too narrow and there were very few opportunities for drivers to showcase their skills to the extreme.

Those in the middle of the field had no chance whatsoever of improving their positions, due to the lack of overtaking areas.

So, here’s my solution.

Why don’t CN, Lake Macquarie City, Port Stephens, Cessnock City and Maitland City councils get together and find a suitable location in the region?

And, instead of one LGA profiting from the millions of dollars on offer, they all receive a slice of the pie.

A neutral location, built to the right scale and size, would then attract bigger motorsport events moving forward.

Everyone wins.

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